Archive | May, 2011

Northlands (Pathfinder) Review

Posted on May 9, 2011 by

Jumping right in, the first chapter – Riddles of Steel: Roleplaying in the Frozen North – explains what’s so special, what’s so different about games set in harsh northern areas inspired by Norseland sagas and Viking lore. The familiar cod-mediaeval or renaissance fantasy civilisations of the majority of games is replaced with a bloodier and darker mindset, never mind that the place tends to be darn cold as well! Vicious monsters abound, and those which walk on two legs live life to the full in conditions that others may see as primitive, certainly more self-sufficient than their neighbours to the south.

But it’s not just a lack of urban luxury, guards to protect you from thieves and villains, and lower temperatures: the whole mind-set is different, and to get the most out of such a setting both GM and players – particularly those whose characters are native to it – will need to start thinking in a different way.


Pelgrane Week: That Old Black Magic: Writing The Big Hoodoo

Posted on May 6, 2011 by

Pelgrane Week continues with a new design essay by The Big Hoodoo author by Bill White. Bill discusses writing an adventure in 1950s California and other details for Trail of Cthulhu.

I’ve written two adventures for Trail of Cthulhu, a game of Lovecraftian investigation written by Kenneth Hite using Robin Laws’ GUMSHOE system. Both are unusual in that they are set in the 1950s, rather than TOC’s usual 1930s setting (itself one of the features that distinguishes Trail of Cthulhu from its more venerable cousin, Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, which takes the 1920s as its canonical milieu). The first, called Castle Bravo, is set aboard an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific during nuclear bomb testing at Bikini Atoll. Its appeal is, I think, straightforward: an atomic bomb goes off and the PCs, as the naval and scientific personnel involved, must deal with monstrous emergences in its aftermath.


Pelgrane Week: The Ashen Stars Pre-Order

Posted on May 6, 2011 by

The long-awaited GUMSHOE-in-Space is finally here. Ashen Stars is the newest and biggest GUMSHOE game from RPG legend Robin D Laws. Being GUMSHOE, it is flexible, you can play it as hard sci-fi, space opera or cyberpunk or anything in between.

Available as a pre-pre-order now direct through the Pelgrane Press Online Store. Those who order get a simple PDF now, exclusive fiction, and your name in the credits, and then get the final PDF and a signed and numbered copy on release.


Pelgrane Week: Tracing the Origin and Development of The Love of Money

Posted on May 5, 2011 by

Pelgrane Week continues here at Flames Rising with a new design essay by Matthew Sanderson. Matthew tells us about writing the forthcoming The Love of Money scenario for the Esoterrorists RPG.

Looking back now, I think that best describes how the creative process began for me with The Love of Money. It all started with the hunt for an initial concept, a small seed, which then germinated and continued to expand into the final work. That hunt began with me asking myself one question: what would make this an Esoterrorist game? I’ve been playing roleplaying games now for about eleven years and in this time I’ve played in a great many games where I’ve thought it could work really well in another game’s setting. However, when I set about writing an adventure myself, I generally ask myself the question “why this game?” I like to feel that the story has a meaning, that it’s not a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.


Pelgrane Week: The Dead White World Review

Posted on May 5, 2011 by

The RPG Call of Cthulhu has always seemed, to me, to be a game that a lot of people have played, but few get right. It’s a great game with a rich background, but the few times I’ve played it felt as if gamers had issues trying to fit their character into the world of the early 20th Century, and the efforts often resulted in hilarious incidents, like one player I knew whose character used a 19 year-old female NPC for point-blank .45 target practice and subsequent bloody blow-through wall spraying.

The other thing that’s always felt difficult to bring into the world is the over-all veil of horror that was an intricate part of Lovecraft’s story. Let’s face it: horror is hard to bring to the table. It’s difficult to put into word in such a way that it doesn’t feel like an descriptive afterthought to a game scene.


Pelgrane Week: The Origins of the Occult Guide

Posted on May 4, 2011 by

Pelgrane Week continues here at Flames Rising with a new design essay by Paula Dempsey. Paula tells us about writing the Occult London a supplement for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG.

The Origins of the Occult Guide

    I can’t recall agreeing to write Augustus Darcy’s Guide to Occult London. The idea was mooted towards the end of 2009 by Simon Rogers of Pelgrane Press and the concept came from him. By then Ken Hite was already working on Bookhounds of London and Simon wanted a guide to occult London in the 1930s to accompany Bookhounds. The back story for the guide, we decided, was that an occultist-about-town, who knew all the personalities in London at that time, was compiling this guide for a mysterious someone amidst murmurings that something very bad was about to happen. Unfortunately, when the occultist, Augustus Darcy, got near the truth he died mysteriously and his writings remained hidden for eighty years until, I believe, a dusty tome was discovered in Simon Rogers’ attic.


    Pelgrane Week: Castle Bravo RPG Review

    Posted on May 4, 2011 by

    Castle Bravo is a tightly focused adventure for Trail of Cthulhu that ties together halfbreed mutants, nuclear bomb testing, and more sanity-blasting goodness. According to the product page on, this adventure didn’t just go through an in-house playtest. It also went through some actual tabletop playtesting at Dreamation 2010. I mention this only because I enjoy games heavily linked to playtesting (Chad Underkoffler’s Zorcerer of Zo comes to mind). While this game only shows the finished product, it stands as an excellent example of how a well-polished adventure can look.


    Pelgrane Week: The Black Drop Review

    Posted on May 3, 2011 by

    Set in one of the most remote places on Earth, the Black Drop is an adventure for Trail of Cthulhu. Investigators, for reasons of their own, are on hand to witness the dismantling of an unsuccessful colonizing effort in the bleak and largely inhospitable Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. There are rumors that the Kerguelens were once part of an ancient continent: a place of advanced learning and magic – Lemuria. Something ancient stirs beneath these islands – something unwholesome and hungry…


    Pelgrane Week: Top 10 Gumshoe RPG Reviews

    Posted on May 2, 2011 by

    Publisher Week | Pelgrane Press | FlamesRising.comOver the years, has provided several reviews from games and music produced by Pelgrane Press.

    To kick off Pelgrane Press Week today, we dug into our archives. In this round up of our top ten Gumshoe RPG reviews, we highlight your favorite games, supplements and gaming aids.

    Take a trip with us into the keep as we remember what we liked (and what we didn’t) about games like Trail of Cthulhu and Mutant City Blues.


    Pelgrane Press Week and Contest at

    Posted on May 2, 2011 by

    Pelgrane Press is pleased to announce a new type of theme week for our readers. From Monday, May 2nd 2011 through Friday, May 6th 2011 we will highlight a specific publisher.

    To launch our new theme week, we have chosen Pelgrane Press as our featured publisher. If you’ve been following our site, you may recall we have provided you with popular previews, interviews, reviews and articles in the past. Based on this publisher’s popularity in the hobby games industry and with horror fans like you, we felt Pelgrane Press was a worthy choice.

    Not familiar with Pelgrane Press, its Gumshoe System and its recently announced Stone Skin Press fiction imprint? For starters, why not check out our Cthulhu Apocalypse: The Dead White World Preview, which is the first part of the highly anticipated Cthulhu Apocalypse series by Graham Walmsley. From there, we recommend reading our recent interview with Robin D. Laws, our interview with Ken Hite and our interview with composer James Semple.

    For Trail of Cthulhu RPG fans, don’t forget to check out our exclusive. Robin Laws provided us with Inmates: A Campaign Frame.

    Curious about the Gumshoe System? Want to play games like Trail of Cthulhu and Esoterrorists but haven’t had the cash? To celebrate our first-ever publisher theme week, Pelgrane Press is sponsoring a contest here on!


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